Best VPNs for Chromebook in 2021
Chromebooks are very democratic and egalitarian. They are affordable and straightforward to use, and they are perfect for the digital needs of the average user. And that in itself means that Chrome OS users can benefit from a quality VPN service every bit as much as Windows, macOS, or Linux users.
While VPNs’ primary use case is supposed to be to keep a user’s online activities private and anonymous, the explosion we’ve seen in demand for online video streams has created a new niche for VPNs: unblocking content in streaming sites that are limited according to a user’s physical location. This is something that VPN services can do easily while keeping you anonymous and secure online.
Demand for online entertainment is the only trend we’ve seen lately. In addition, Edward Snowden’s revelations have increased the public’s interest and concern about online privacy and anonymity, so demand for VPNs has increased as well. As a result, the current VPN market is crowded.
So, if you are a proud Chromebook owner and user, how can you choose the right VPN for you? It’s a hard job. It takes a lot of time, energy, resources, and a bit of expertise.
But not to worry. We’ve done the work for you.
We’ve looked into the best VPNs in the industry to figure out which are the ones that will better serve the needs of Chromebook users. This article lists our top five choices (and some that we don’t recommend), uncovers what to look for in a VPN for Chromebook, and how can you install one on your Chrome OS device.
Top Chromebook VPNs – The quick list
We will give you a detailed description of each of our top five choices further on in this article. But if you’re in a bit of a rush and just need to know the providers quickly, here they are:
- NordVPN – It’s a fast service with solid encryption and optimal privacy and security features. It’s the best VPN out there, and it has an impressive global network.
- Surfshark – An industry disruptor that allows for unlimited connections. It may be cheap, but SurfShark does not cut corners, and it has every feature you want in a VPN.
- ExpressVPN – Every element in this VPN provider is fantastic, which is why it’s one of the best networks in the industry. The speeds are fast, and the privacy features are solid.
- IPVanish – A quality provider that boasts encrypted storage on top of fast VPN. Competitive speeds, a global server network, and unlimited simultaneous connections make this VPN desirable.
- VyprVPN – A good service that is well suited even for the lowest budgets. It’s a good option for every task you will ever need, from a premium VPN at the most competitive price in the market.
A quick guide to using a VPN on a Chromebook
It only takes a few minutes for you to set up a Chromebook VPN. It all comes down to the following four simple steps:
- You start by choosing a VPN service you like. NordVPN is our top choice by far, but you can pick any of the other ones. And before you ask, no, don’t use a free VPN. Ever
- Go to the Google Play Store. Search by name and download and install the available apps for the VPN service you chose – the NordVPN application, if you followed our advice
- Launch your VPN app and log in
- Choose a server in the network. Connect to it. That’s it! You’re now protected by the VPN and can start using it for whichever purpose you wanted
Read also: The best VPN for Chrome today
What makes a VPN best for Chromebooks
If you want a good user experience on your Chromebook with a dependable VPN that’s reliable, fast, and efficient, then you can’t just choose the first VPN you come across.
Protecting your Chromebook effectively with a VPN needs to take into account several factors.
The most important metrics that you have to keep in mind when you’re looking for a VPN for your Chromebook are the following:
- Speed. High speeds are necessary because almost every online activity you do will run more smoothly if your VPN’s speeds are high. Every choice in our list of top five VPNs for Chromebooks has excellent speeds.
- Server network. Size matters when it comes to VPN networks. Extensive networks give you the ability to unlock websites anywhere in the world. Also, a vast network doesn’t have many overloaded individual servers, so the connections are steady and fast more often than not.
- Value for money. Everybody likes to get a good deal on any purchase. So why should you pay for a VPN that’s not giving you back your money’s value in features? Among our five picks, three are priced at the industry’s standard, and the remaining two are very cheap indeed.
- Ease of use. Choosing a VPN for Chromebook is not just about friendly apps (you don’t want to spend a lot of time dealing with arcane settings). Your VPN provider must offer you a ChromeOS or Android app that works with your Chromebook. Each VPN in our list includes easy-to-use apps, and many offer apps tailored for Chromebooks.
- Privacy and security. Any VPN charging you for service must provide you with thorough digital security, privacy, and anonymity. The very least features you must have are military-grade encryption, an automatic kill switch, protection against DNS and IP leaks. Last but not least, your provider must adhere to a strict no-logs policy so that no external agency can have a record of your online activities in the future, not even legally.
- Streaming. Streaming is one of the most popular use cases for VPNs. A good VPN must have enough bandwidth to support your HD video streams. It also needs to have enough servers strategically placed in the critical countries from which you can unlock the best content you want.
5 best VPNs for Chromebook – The detailed list
It’s time to see the detailed descriptions for each service.
We’ll tell you about each option’s features, security, costs, and other relevant information. You’ll learn everything you should so you can choose the best VPN for your Chromebook.
Please note we tested every VPN using a symmetric connection with a speed of 350Mbps.
Hands down, NordVPN is the best VPN to get if you have a Chromebook. The VPN provider hails from Panama, which is a privacy-friendly jurisdiction. Their network spans 59 countries and includes more than 5,500 servers. This is the provider we’ve picked as the best option for Chromebook, and we’ll tell you why.
NordVPN’s service includes a variety of top-notch features, state-of-the-art technology, and great value for every single penny.
When it comes to the Chromebook platform, NordVPN is one of the few VPNs in the market that has optimized its app for Chromebook, specifically. In addition, the wide variety of nodes in many countries makes it perfect for bypassing geo-restrictions in almost any website.
This ability is particularly relevant in video streaming sites, which is why we tested this VPN with every streaming platform we know. And it worked every time. So whether it was HBO Max, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, you name it, NordVPN can handle them all.
NordVPN has high-speed connections – a critical feature if you are looking to support HD video streams. The network’s protocol is NordLynx, which runs on WireGuard – a VPN protocol that supports UDP only, and it uses no handshakes, which is why it’s one of the most coherent ones.
NordVPN’s features are variegated and high-quality. For example, its SmartPlay is a version of SmartDNS; split tunneling is available, CyberSec blocks pop-ups and malicious websites, and a dark web monitoring feature. The dark web monitor is very helpful in fraud prevention because it scans marketplaces on the dark web for your data. So if hackers in the dark web ever get ahold of your email address, NordVPN will let you know right away.
We mentioned earlier that NordVPN is in Panama, a country that doesn’t belong to any of the Eyes Alliances and whose laws are friendly towards individual privacy. So it is always a good thing when you’re looking for a VPN. In addition, this VPN adheres to a strict no-logs data policy, which shows that security and privacy are a top priority for the company.
So what would you like for a VPN to do for you? Hide your activity from your ISP so that it won’t throttle your bandwidth? Have a kill switch that ensures your traffic is protected at all times? Have fast connections from the key countries that will let you unblock all the content you want from every streaming platform? It makes no difference. NordVPN has all the bases covered for you.
NordVPN is a very affordable service, as you can have an account for as little as 3.30 USD monthly if you pick the right plan. But you won’t even need to risk your money. NordVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it for a month before you commit.
The only disadvantage we found in NordVPN is the lack of port forwarding, which, while not a deal-breaker, could make things better for P2P downloads (torrenting).
An industry disruptor that allows for unlimited connections. This is a provider from the British Virgin Islands. The network includes more than 3,200 servers spread in 65 countries.
SurfShark is a relatively new player in the VPN world that’s caused quite a bit of disruption despite its young age. Its secret is a top-notch service at a very competitive price.
If you’re going to enter the VPN universe through your Chromebook, SurfShark is the best option available, except for NordVPN.
The SurfShark dedicated app is also optimized for Chromebooks.
We find every feature in SurfShark to be excellent. However, there is one that makes it stand apart from every other VPN. SurfShark allows for unlimited devices to connect simultaneously into the network – most other VPNs only allow for about five connections. In other words: you can have as many Chromebooks as you’d like connected to this VPN simultaneously using a single account – and also your smartphones, tablets, or computers.
SurfShark is very good when it comes to unblocking websites as well. We tested this VPN for this purpose, but we found no streaming service to keep up with it. On the other hand, SurfShark bypassed the restrictions in every platform successfully.
Speed is also excellent with Surfshark. For example, we achieved speeds of 273 Mbps through many of the servers in the network when we connected with the WireGuard protocol (an option designed for speed, as mentioned earlier). The pace allows for smooth video streams and also for even smoother lag-free video gaming sessions.
SurfShark supports every single feature you could expect from a top-rated VPN service. In addition, split tunneling, CleanWeb (blocking ads and malware), SmartDNS, and much more are available for a meager price when considering the industry’s average costs.
ExpressVPN is a big name in VPNs. The service is a premium service that works well with Chrome OS. It’s the preferred VPN for many industry experts for excellent reasons.
This provider offers more than 3,000 servers scattered over 90 countries, so the network is extensive, and it covers many regions that few other providers do.
Speeds at ExpressVPN are lighting fast on Chromebooks. HD video streams, gaming, and every other bandwidth-intensive task we threw at it worked fine, without lags or buffering.
The unblocking capabilities in ExpressVPN are awe-inspiring too. Even the most inflexible platforms (BBC iPlayer or Netflix) posed no problem for this VPN. This feature also allows ExpressVPN users to bypass Internet censorship anywhere in the world so that they can browse around the web in a genuinely free way.
There is a dedicated Android ExpressVPN app for Chromebooks, and there is a Chrome extension available too. Every account is good for five concurrent connections to the network.
If you’re the type of user who enjoys using your Chromebook at public WiFi hotspots, we have even better news for you. You will be to use those hotspots, at last, in a perfectly secure way because ExpressVPN keeps you protected with its military-grade encryption algorithm.
Other advantages include a zero-logging policy and an automatic kill switch – this feature ensures that all of your traffic stops if, for some reason, you lose the secure connection to the VPN network. In addition, the servers are safe against DNS and IP leaks.
“Trusted Server Technology” is also an appealing feature in ExpressVPN. It’s about the servers’ hardware in the network. Each one uses a RAM hard disk instead of a conventional one. RAM’s volatility means that every single bit of data disappears from the server whenever a session ends.
ExpressVPN also offers split tunneling, a feature that lets you decide what applications will route their traffic through the VPN and which will go regularly.
Last but not least, you can try this VPN without risking any money. The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can use the network for the first thirty days and ask for your money back, no questions asked.
A good service that comes with encrypted storage as a bonus.
IPVanish has a network consisting of 1,600+ nodes located throughout 75 countries. It’s a good pick for Chromebook users, and it allows an unlimited number of connections in each account, like SufrShark. That’s is very useful if you need to enable every member of your household or family to use a VPN through a single account.
The server pool is not as impressive as some of the other networks on the list, but it’s good enough. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the number of servers in a VPN network is not necessarily the most important thing – bandwidth and computing resources can easily compensate for a small number of nodes. In addition, the servers available will enable you to unblock video streaming platforms like YouTube or Netflix without any problems.
The IPVanish ChromeOS app includes support for L2TP and the OpenVPN protocols. In addition, it allows you to choose AES-128 and AES-256 encryption – the 128-bit version of AES could seem a bit weaker on the surface, but nobody has successfully cracked it so far anyway, so it’s as safe as the 256 bits in practical terms.
One thing about the Chromebook app: you can only install it if your device supports Google Play Android apps.
Pricing in IPVanish is almost precisely at the industry’s average. It will cost you 10.99 USD monthly, but if you choose the right plan for low budgets, you can have the service as low as 3.20 USD monthly. And there is a bundle package that includes 500GB of encrypted data storage.
A good service that is well suited even for the lowest budgets.
VyprVPN is a Swiss service with 700 servers in over 70 countries. It’s the smallest network by server count in this list, but don’t be mistaken; this is a premium VPN. The servers are very reliable, and the connections are fast.
This is the only VPN provider in our top five list that offers a VPN specifically for Chromebooks. But you don’t need it because the Android app works fine in Chromebooks.
VyprVPN excels at unblocking video streaming websites. We successfully unlocked HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, SkyGo, Hulu, ESPN, and the American Netflix catalog.
VyprVPN servers are speedy. Our average speeds were as high as 246Mbps, which are excellent as far as VPNs go. So if you want a VPN that will support connections good enough for gaming or HD video streams, VyprVPN will suit you perfectly.
Now, suppose that you are at a place where VPN access is restricted – it could be your school, workplace, or jurisdiction like China. If you’re dealing with that situation, VyprVPN has the Chamaeleon 2.0 tunneling protocol. It’s a technology that makes your VPN traffic like regular internet traffic. That allows your traffic to bypass the standard blocks posed by the institutions, as mentioned earlier.
And we’ve left the best for last. If you thought that SurfShark and IPVanish are cheap, wait until you see the pricing for VyprVPN. Then, you can have the complete service for a price as low as 1.66 USD.
Other great features include malware block and 24/7 live chat customer support.
Why should I use a VPN on a Chromebook?
Using a good VPN service (paid, not free) improves your digital life and user experience, whether you’re a smartphone, laptop, or desktop user. Of course, Chromebook users can benefit greatly from this technology too, and some of the best reasons to have a VPN working on your Chromebook are specific to this type of hardware.
Chromebooks are prevalent equipment in lower academic environments. Thus, as a student, you will probably have access to or own a Chromebook. In addition, many schools have very tight policies regarding the type of websites accessible to their users. In other words: chances are that many useful or exciting websites (or quite simple websites you’d like to use) are banned.
Entertainment websites are even more so. Having a VPN active in your Chromebook will enable you to access the Internet via a VPN server, thus bypassing any restrictions imposed by your school.
Also, Chromebooks are minimalistic systems. Number crunching or heavy-duty tasks are beside the point in Chromebooks, so most users have them for the most straightforward and more essential tasks. Video streaming is among them. Again a VPN service (especially the five ones we’ve described) will circumvent any restrictions in your local network and enable you to stream HD videos from any of the best video streaming websites.
And let’s not forget what’s still deemed the essential purpose of a VPN: to protect your online privacy, security, and anonymity. Every VPN worth its salt will perform two tasks for you. First, it will hide your actual IP address from the Internet at large and announce an address from the network as yours. Second, it encrypts all the traffic, incoming and outgoing, from your Chromebook. This means that all of your traffic will look like white noise to an external observer.
Thus it’s safe from hackers, your school’s or work’s sysadmins, your ISP, or any other third party. If you are the type of person who enjoys using a Chromebook in public WiFi hotspots, such as your nearest Starbucks, using a VPN is even more critical. You see, hackers love these kinds of public hotspots, too, because every user is broadcasting their traffic into the open air using encryption that is so weak that you can break it even with smartphones.
Consequently, WiFi hotspots are a security risk for every Chromebook user – unless all of their traffic is encrypted with a VPN. So you see, having VPN installed in your Chromebook has to do even with how much you can enjoy your morning coffee.
How to set up a VPN on a Chromebook
There are three primary methods for installing or setting up a VPN in a Chromebook. In this section, we’ll describe each of them in detail.
1. Installing a VPN from Google Play into your Chromebook
- Launch the Google Play Store
- Search the app for the VPN you chose – NordVPN is our recommended provider
- Install the app
- Open the application
- Log in
- Choose the server you want. USA and UK servers are the best options if you have Netflix in mind
2. Using Linux mode to sideload the app on your Chromebook
- Go to the settings and then head over to Linux(Beta), and then Develop Android Apps
- Now, enable ADB debugging
- Reboot your device
- Confirm enabling the ADB debugging
- Find and download the APK file you wish to install
- Go to Files and then My Files. Now head over to Linux files and copy the APK file in this folder
- Open a terminal window. Type in “sudo apt install adb,” press enter, and allow the installation to proceed
- Now, write “adb connect arc,” and press Enter. Confirm the use of USB debugging
- Your Chromebook can have an Intel/AMD core or ARM. The following command line you’ll type depends on which one. If your Chromebook boasts an arm processor type “adb install [insert your apk name here].apk.” If you’re on the Intel/AMD camp then you type this: adb -s emulator-5554 install [insert your apk name here].apk
- The app should be there now. Find it in your application launcher and open it
- Log in
- Finally, choose the server you want to use
3. Use a browser extension to connect to your VPN
- Launch your browser and point it to your VPN’s website. Once you’re there, find the official link for its browser extension
- Install the addon
- Click on the browser plugin icon and log in
- Choose the server you prefer
VPNs we don’t recommend for Chromebook
Using a VPN on your Chromebook requires your service to provide either an Android or Chromebook (the Chrome OS) application. The problem is that not every VPN in the market offers Android apps. Even worse, some providers are of low quality, and they don’t care for user security. A few of them have been known to infect Chromebooks with malware.
So, in this imperfect world, there are some VPNs that you should avoid always, but even more so if you’re a Chromebook user. Here are the most notorious offenders:
- TurboVPN. It’s famous, and it’s popular. And it’s one of the VPNs that keeps logs on your data.
- CrossVPN. Several reports assert that CrossVPN’s software spreads around malware that is poisonous for Chromebooks. Stay away.
- Hola VPN. This is one network you should avoid, like the plague. It’s not even a real VPN but a proxy. Hola VPN is known to hijack your bandwidth and offer it to its paying customers. If one of them is involved in fishy things, you’ll be the one to take the rap for it.
- Betternet. It is a well-known free VPN. The problem with Betternet (and most free VPN services) is that while it’s true that you do not pay for this service with money, you will still have to give up something if you use one of these services: your privacy – more on that later. Betternet stores all kinds of data on you, which is an excellent reason never to use it.
- SuperVPN. This VPN is also known for hiding malware. And it keeps logs. Please stay clear of it.
Do you notice any common feature in each of those VPNs in our “blacklist”? Right! They’re all free VPN services! This is the perfect segway we needed to introduce the following section, but before moving on, we need to tell you that free VPNs are unsuited for Chromebooks. Some paid services won’t do the trick either; here they are:
- PrivateVPN. It’s not that you can’t use it on a Chromebook precisely. But the setup process is lengthy and rather meticulous. So while PrivateVPN is a budget-friendly option, you can still get other VPNs with comparable prices and much better quality.
- Private Internet Access. Private Internet Access offers excellent and thorough installation documentation for every device except Chromebooks. If that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that the Android app doesn’t work either. It doesn’t work, pure and simple.
- Norton Secure VPN. Norton is the most reputed and robust security company in the world. But Norton Secure VPN is not compatible with your Chromebook, we’re sorry to say.
Is there a free Chromebook VPN that I can use?
Yes, you can find several, and you should not use them. Ever.
The VPN industry is certainly overcrowded at the present moment. And there is no shortage of free VPNs out there. These services won’t charge you with money for using their VPN, but you will still have to pay with something – your usage data.
If you’ve read the descriptions we’ve provided for each of our preferred VPN services, you probably noticed that a good VPN needs a vast network of servers scattered around the globe. That means paying for the hardware, the system administrators, electricity, renting physical space, etc. As a result, running a VPN costs money.
Subscription VPNs get that money from the monthly fees they charge you. On the other hand, free VPNs have to face those same expenses without making you pay for them. So how do they manage to make ends meet?
Well, free VPNs do generate income based on a business model other than paid subscriptions. In addition, some of them will provide you with VPN apps clogged with ads, which are annoying but not terrible – or, at least, they don’t pose a threat to your anonymity and your privacy. But there’s another common practice in the free VPN world, which is not so inoffensive.
Some free VPNs will give you a service (usually unreliable, slow, and with data caps), but they will keep extensive logs on your online activities. Then, they will sell the collected data to their commercial partners, which are usually businesses that know how to mine the data and monetize it.
So while these networks will hide your IP and encrypt your internet traffic, thus protecting your privacy in the short term, your privacy is at risk indeed because somebody else will end up having all your information. And that beats the purpose of using a VPN in the first place. Furthermore, if this is not bad enough, some of those VPNs will also install malware into your system.
So the problem with free VPNs for Chromebooks (or any other device) is that everything is wrong with them. Their connections are slow and unreliable, and the server availability is scarce. They increase your security liabilities, the data you can use is limited. So it’s not just that your privacy is at risk with these free VPNs; it’s also that the service they provide is terrible.
There are alternatives, though. Some excellent and reputable VPNs offer a free trial as well. Those will be better options for sure because they will keep your privacy safe for sure, but the chances are that you won’t be able to enjoy all of the features in the VPN, and you will have to put up with service limitations. While this option is far from perfect, it could be good enough for the less intensive users, and it’s certainly a much better idea than turning to free VPNs.
So to use or not to use a VPN in your Chromebook, that is the question.
In this article, we’ve explained the exciting advantages you will gain by adding a VPN to your Chromebook experience. The three main benefits are enhancing your online privacy and anonymity and the ability to maximize access to media content all over the world, and the ability to bypass any local restrictions.
Those advantages are good enough for any user, but there are even more, of course, such as gaming, torrenting, and other things. Hiding your activity from your ISP is also advantageous because it prevents your provider from throttling your bandwidth.
With the providers we’ve suggested, you can have a premium VPN for as low a monthly fee as 2 USD, so there are very accessible options out there.
The final verdict on Chromebooks and VPNs is this: using a VPN with your Chromebook is very cheap, and the advantages it offers are significant. So if you have the slightest possibility of using one, just go for it.
About the author
Tech researcher and writer with a passion for cybersecurity. Alex is a strong advocate of digital freedom and online privacy.